Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Balsamic Chicken With Sweet Mushroom Gravy




I'm sure I've mentioned before that chicken's not really my thing. Many of the recipes on this blog are vegetarian because that's how I prefer to eat ninety percent of the time. But I've always relied on dairy for much of my protein. Cottage cheese on my salad makes me so happy. Mac and cheese has me at hello. And a grilled cheese sandwich has me in heaven. The problem? Except for yogurt, dairy triggers my IBS (hello, lactose intolerance!). I've always known this, but my love for cheese was stronger than my IBS pain. However, after doing the elimination diet, I'm much more in tune with what my body does and doesn't like. I've also been having a flair up of the headaches and fatigue that made me decide to do the diet in the first place. Because of this, I'm realizing that my body needs to be treated with a lot more kindness than I've given it. After years of bingeing and eating foods that weren't helping my digestion (like gluten and lots of sugar), I'm trying as hard as I can not to be tempted by the Dunkin Donuts commercials (Can you tell I'm watching TV while I write this?) and to give my body what it needs.

Unfortunately what my body wants and what my brain wants are not always the same thing. My brain wants carbs and sugar. My body's crying out for more vegetables and protein. I feel best when I include a small amount of carbs and protein in each meal, but lately it's been too many carbs, not enough protein. Part of the reason for that is that I haven't adjusted yet to not eating dairy for my protein fix. I'm still having plain yogurt, and I love chickpeas, but other sources of protein are hard for me to get in. I used to love eating nuts, but I realized they were making my headaches worse, so I'm avoiding them now. I grew up on tofu, but I haven't enjoyed it lately. And for whatever reason, while I can eat most other food until there's no tomorrow, I'm easily turned off by seafood, chicken, and turkey. Beef? Well, I was never turned onto that in the first place. I harbor a secret love for pork, but since I also always wanted a pet pig, I won't buy it (which doesn't mean I won't occasionally eat it if it's in front of me). So the dilemma? Come up with more vegetarian sources of protein or learn how to cook chicken so that I like it. What's the best way to make me like meat? Smother it in gravy! So that's what I did. While I might not love meat so much, I do love gravy and I happened to have some homemade chicken broth left over from my roasted chicken last week (again, attempting to get that protein in). While I'll admit that I'm still not sold on chicken, I am sold on this meal (especially the gravy). The gravy is perfect ladled over your favorite vegetables and it's the kind of meal that will make meat lovers (like my boyfriend) go for seconds.



Balsamic Chicken With Sweet Mushroom Gravy
Print-Friendly Option

Ingredients:
4 4-oz. organic free range chicken breasts
1 cup chicken broth
1/2 lb. sliced baby bella mushrooms
4 prunes, diced
2 1/2 Tbsp. balsamic vinegar
1 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1 bay leaf
1-2 Tbsp. sweet white rice flour (You can use regular flour if you're not gluten free)
black pepper to taste

Directions:
  1. Heat olive oil in a large saute pan. Add chicken breasts and saute 3 minutes on each side. Set aside on a plate.
  2. Add the garlic and mushrooms and saute lightly. If the garlic looks like it's going to burn, add a tablespoon of the chicken broth.
  3. Add the prunes, balsamic vinegar, chicken broth and bay leaf and whisk briefly.
  4. Add the chicken breasts. Turn heat to low and simmer with a cover on for approximately 15 minutes, until the chicken is cooked through. Turn the chicken breasts halfway through for even cooking.
  5. Take the chicken out and arrange on plates.
  6. Turn the heat up to medium-high and whisk in the rice flour, allowing the liquid to come to a simmer. Keep simmering, whisking constantly, until the sauce thickens into a gravy. Ladle over the chicken. Add pepper if desired.
Serves 4

What's your favorite way to get your protein in? Do you have a chicken recipe that you love and think I should try? What are your favorite vegetarian sources of protein?

This post is linked to Gluten Free Wednesdays and Real Food Wednesdays.

16 comments:

Lazaro Cooks! said...

Organic free-range chicken is the only way to go. Great recipe full of flavor. Love your use of prunes. Nice touch.

Just Call Me Zippy said...

Wow! This sounds like a great recipe to try. I just fixed the blah-est chicken ever. I can't wait to try this.

I had to give up on dairy, too. My gut has thanked me, but my soul sure misses it. It is the casein that gets me so even yogurt is out. I had just found a GF macaroni and cheese recipe that was awesome!:(

Since giving up dairy I have been turning to quinoa for a protein boost, but I also need to find a way to get more calcium. If being gluten free wasn't a big enough headache when eating out, now I'm having to cross-reference the dairy and the gluten to see what is left. I constantly remind myself that I shouldn't feel bitter because I can't eat what I want. I should choose instead to feel grateful because I finally know what foods makes me sick.

Still...Oh how I miss whipped cream, cream cheese, MILK chocolate, and freshly grated parmesan cheese on my Italian dishes. *sigh*

Iris said...

Lazaro - Glad you noticed that it's organic free-range chicken. I generally don't include whether it's organic or not in the ingredients list, but I just can't buy conventional chicken. Even though it's more expensive, I feel it's an important change to make if you don't do it already (I'm sure you do).

Dee - You and me both. I tried some vegan cheese and it was horrible. I'll keep trying. I hear daiya is good, but I haven't found any yet.

Stephanie said...

This looks fantastic! I love gravy too! I have a hard time with dairy too :( For me, that was harder than giving up gluten.
I'm excited to try this recipe. I bet it would be good with some asparagus (even better cuz that's what I have in the fridge!).
Thanks for sharing!!

Stephanie said...

P.S. I'm always looking for creative ways to enjoy chicken.
I've been wanting to try this recipe: http://goodthingscatered.blogspot.com/2010/04/red-wine-balsamic-grilled-chicken.html

Molly said...

Hi,
I'm a compulsive overeater and restricter, so I can relate to your history with your eating disorder. I really appreciate your honesty. I am also currently transitioning to vegan (about 95% there!), and loving it so far. I was a huge dairy-o-phile and thought I could never give up cheese. Two things helped. One, watching/reading Neal Barnard's videos and books about dairy's opiate effects in our bodies (Breaking the Food Seduction), and two, once I finally made the decision and emptied that last package, and it was _done_, I grieved, yes, but I felt *better*. Physically, emotionally, everything. I was free of that little bit of addiction, and I am 100% a food addict, so being able to kick one tiny addiction was a huge victory.

Thanks for letting me ramble, and I wish you luck. Remember that this is about what's best for your body. Yogurt may taste good, but ultimately, it is hurting you, and that's bad. Treat your body with love and care. You deserve the best.

Iris said...

Stephanie - I agree. Letting go of gluten wasn't that hard for me because there are so many other options. There's really nothing like dairy!

Molly - Thanks for sharing. I appreciate your honesty too! I might look into those books.

Fayinagirl (means Free One) said...

You dish looks very good. The key to embracing vegan "cheese" is to do without dairy cheese long enough to sort-of "forget" what it tasted like exactly. ;-)

Honestly, there are some vegan cheeses that are good, and some that aren't. You just have to experiment.

Tasty Eats At Home said...

This does look tasty! I actually LOVE chicken - it's versatile and if you buy free range chicken, it has flavor to it. GLad you're finding a body-happy way to enjoy your protein!

gfe--gluten free easily said...

I'm a chicken lover myself. I got excited when I saw the title of this post actually. LOL Looks good to me.

I used to not eat enough protein, namely meat. I found that if I started eating small portions of leftover meat (e.g., chicken) for breakfast, I had much more energy and I seemed to like meat more.

I keep forgetting how long you have been gluten free. Some folks find that after being gluten free for a while (say 6 mos perhaps), that their lactose intolerance goes away. The same is true of other issues/intolerances. The gut has to heal and then they can slowly be reintroduced. It doesn't always work for every thing, but it can work for many foods.

I have a real issue with the term IBS; I believe it's just a catch all for doctors who don't know the real source of one's problems. Most often the cause of IBS symptoms is gluten. Those of us who were misdiagnosed with IBS for years, say that's the doctor really saying, "I Be Stupid" or as Elisabeth Hasselbeck says, put the emphasis on the BS part. (I don't agree with Hasselbeck on much, but on that I do!) After gluten, there's dairy, soy, and so on and so. And, note that when I say dairy, I don't necessarily mean lactose. I have some dairy issues, but they aren't lactose intolerance. For years, I thought that my issues were lactose, but they weren't.

Shirley

Iris said...

Shirley, I agree with you about IBS. I sort of call my issues that myself because I don't know what they are. I never actually had a doctor tell me I had IBS, just that I was exaggerating my pain. I've been gluten free for almost a year (except for a 3 week period in order to get tested), but I think a combination of other issues (mainly bingeing) have continued to do damage to my digestive system. So the main goal for now is to work on healing, one step at a time.

Isabel said...

the recipe sounds great. im going to try it. i was also just "diagnosed" with IBS. which i agree is BS. haha. the dr. basically told me i cant eat anything...and i find it hard to believe that all these food allergies came out of the blue on my 20's when ive never had any problems before. im thinking of trying probiotics....
is the elimination diet easy?

Linda said...

I love a good mushroom gravy and it's perfect for chicken. This looks terrific. Thanks again for participating in Gluten-Free Wednesdays.

Farty Girl said...

Hey dollface. Ya know I'm not down with the meat eating... but I was once a huge fan of gravy. Especially diner gravy and fries!!! Brings back such good late night memories.

I hear you about your body and brain wanting different foods. Right now I'm reading Scottish nutritionist Gillian McKeith's books. She does the TV show, "You are What you Eat." She says that often times, cravings are to due nutritional imbalance and poor digestion. She is really into pushing beans for energy and all sorts of foods that "decongest" the liver. Apparently poor digestion and a messed up liver go hand in hand, espesh when you can't digest fats well.

You are a nutritionist, so I'm sure you know all of this already. It was big time news to me! I hope you feel better! :)

Brian said...

This looks really tasty. Now I just need to get my wife to eat mushrooms. Thanks for sharing the recipe.

Bridge said...

I have the same tendency toward meat. Body needs it, but my mind and mouth could happily live on cheese and bread, both of which I eat very little of these days. Tonight, I am making this with that rice pie you just posted and a side of roasted brussels sprouts. I thought that rice dish would be yum with something saucy.
Bridge

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